Heavy police presence in Sydney park, inner-city roads closed over fears of anti-lockdown protests

Heavy police presence in a Sydney park as rumors of an illegal anti-lockdown protest are feverish and police shut down multiple inner-city roads

  • Police gathered in St Peters, south of the CBD, to avert anti-lockdown protests
  • A major operation by the NSW Police also closed major roads to and around the park
  • Police also in Victoria Park on the outskirts of CBD, determined to prevent a major protest










Dozens of police officers are preparing to stop a planned anti-lockdown protest in Sydney if it goes ahead as planned.

NSW police arrived in busloads in Sydney Park, St Peters on Saturday morning and were on foot and by bike to prevent protesters from crowding as a police operation blocked several roads in the area.

The police presence was described as a ‘ring of steel’, the phrase used during the pandemic to describe operations that prevent unwanted movement of the public along major roads.

NSW police arrived in busloads in Sydney Park, St Peters on Saturday morning and were on hand on bicycles and on foot to prevent protesters from crowding as a police operation blocked several roads in the area

Neighbors and users of the popular park, which borders Newtown and Alexandria, said the policy’s strong presence has kept them at home.

Saturday around 10am, a local man tweeted: ‘Come to Sydney Park for some recreation with my daughter. There is an insane police here! Apparently about a protest that will take place here later.’

Another local reported police helicopter had been deployed, possibly to identify groups of protesters gathering.

“I have 20 officers across the street from my house having a meeting and I can hear the helicopter flying over,” he tweeted.

NSW Transport warned the public to follow police instructions in the area, be patient and said traffic would slow south on Euston Road near the park.

Police also targeted another potential protest site nearby, in Victoria Park, where they managed to break up an anti-lockdown protest before it gained momentum last month.

Police also targeted another potential protest site nearby, in Victoria Park, where they managed to break up an anti-lockdown protest before it gained momentum last month.

NSW Police action in Victoria Park on the edge of Sydney's CBD, prevented an anti-lockdown protest from reaching critical mass in late August

NSW Police action in Victoria Park on the edge of Sydney’s CBD, prevented an anti-lockdown protest from reaching critical mass in late August

Police also targeted another potential protest site nearby, in Victoria Park, where they managed to break up an anti-lockdown protest before it gained momentum last month.

NSW police promised an equally ‘highly visible’ operation to prevent protesters from gathering in large numbers for another march.

Mal Lanyon, deputy commissioner of Metropolitan Field Operations, also said police are ready to respond to any last-minute location changes.

“We continue to monitor online commentary and have established an extremely mobile police operation with significant resources to respond to any situation we face,” he said.

Meanwhile, the leaderless anti-lockdown protests in NSW are diverting a huge amount of police resources that could otherwise be used to assist with the COVID-19 crisis.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says anti-lockdown protests are wasting valuable resources that could otherwise be diverted to help with the state’s escalating COVID crisis.

On Tuesday, police broke up nearly 100 small anti-lockdown protests across NSW, arresting more than 150 people and imposing 570 fines.

Last month, 1,500 police were found in force in Sydney to quell protests that followed a larger violent protest in the CBD in July.

Mr Fuller told a hearing on NSW budget estimates on Wednesday that there had been about 1,000 protests a year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which were generally peaceful, well-organized and with very few arrests.

“But it’s clear that the COVID protests are very different,” he said.

Because the anti-lockdown protests were illegal “you don’t tend to have protest organizers, you just have a group of people … a gang if you like to show up”.

“It consumes a huge amount of police resources that could be put to good use at this point in aiding health,” said Mr Fuller.

“I just think people underestimate the risks they take to get together in such large numbers.

“It just doesn’t make sense — there are so many other ways people can protest right now without actually having to come.”

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